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Influenza In Children


Influenza (the flu) is an infection caused by the influenza virus. The flu is easily spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or has close contact with others. Your child may be able to spread the flu to others for 1 week or longer after signs or symptoms appear.



Your child may need any of the following:

  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask your child's healthcare provider how much and how often to give this medicine to your child. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.

  • NSAIDs help decrease swelling and pain or fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If your child takes blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for him. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's doctor.

  • Antivirals are given to fight an infection caused by a virus.

  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists.

  • Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

Manage your child's symptoms:

  • Have your child rest. Make sure your child gets enough rest and sleep. Rest and sleep may help him get better faster when he has the flu.

  • Give your child more liquids as directed. Ask your child's healthcare provider how much liquid your child should drink each day and which liquids are best for him. This can help prevent dehydration.

  • Use a cool-mist humidifier This can be used in your child's bedroom to increase air moisture. It may make it easier for your child to breathe.

Prevent the spread of influenza:

  • Have your child wash his hands often. Have him use soap and water or gel hand cleanser when there is no soap and water available. Teach him not to touch his eyes, nose, or mouth unless he has washed his hands first.

  • Teach your child to cover his mouth when he sneezes or coughs. Have him cough into a tissue or his shirtsleeve so he does not spread germs.

  • Clean shared items. Clean toys, table surfaces, doorknobs, and light switches with a germ-killing cleaner. Do not share towels, silverware, or dishes with people who are sick. Wash bed sheets, towels, silverware, and dishes with soap and water.

  • Wear a face mask. Wear a mask to cover your mouth and nose when you are near your sick child. This can decrease your risk for the flu. Ask healthcare providers where to buy single-use masks.

  • Keep your child home if he is sick. Keep your child away from others as much as possible while he recovers.

  • Have your child get an influenza vaccine to help prevent the flu. Everyone older than age 6 months should get a yearly influenza vaccine. Get the vaccine as soon as it is available, usually in October or November each year.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child's symptoms get worse.

  • Your child has new symptoms, such as muscle pain or weakness.

  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Your child has a fever with a rash.

  • Your child has fast breathing, trouble breathing, or chest pain.

  • Your child's skin is blue or gray.

  • Your child's symptoms got better, but then came back with a fever or a worse cough.

  • Your child will not drink liquids, is not urinating, or has no tears when he cries.

  • Your child does not want to be held and does not respond to you, or he does not wake up.

  • Your child has a seizure.

  • Your child coughs or vomits blood.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Influenza In Children (Discharge Care)